A Whole New World
I feel like going on a magic carpet ride with Aladdin and Jasmine to escape the pandemic.
For the first six months of this new decade the COVID19 virus wreaked havoc on life, livelihood, systems, and order that we hold so dear. As it swept the world, we realized that despite the leaps and bounds we’ve made in medicine, science, and technology, we are at the mercy of submicroscopic infectious agents whose origin is still a mystery.
They called COVID19 the great equalizer. Rich, poor, famous, everyday Joes, and world leaders were not spared as the pandemic spread at an alarming rate. Countries closed, borders were sealed and everyone was asked to please stay home because the virus cases were increasing fast and self-isolation or sheltering in place was the only sure prevention.
Mankind came to a halt and for the first time the earth rested. The air was fresher. Skylines once covered in smog were now clearly visible miles away. The skies were bluer and sunrises and sunsets were more stunning to see. The seas were quieter. More sea creatures were seen where water traffic used to dominate. Towns near forests saw wild animals walk the streets as people stayed indoors.
So, where are we now?
As of this writing, almost all countries are still closed to international travel. Medical trials for several vaccines are being conducted in different countries simultaneously. Those in medical research know however that it will take a miracle to properly develop a vaccine in less than two years.
We are in the “new normal” as the world calls it. Social or physical distancing of at least one meter is strongly encouraged everywhere you go. The elbow bump has replaced the handshake, hug, and kiss. People are strongly urged to refrain from having large gatherings. Some churches will resume meetings but with many restrictions and regulations. Videoconferencing has taken over face-to-face meetings even live events like concerts. Social media and video-on-demand (VOD) have become the main sources of entertainment. Online platforms have multiplied as the need to conduct businesses online grew rapidly in the last several months.
In the Philippines, students are being homeschooled and are using blended learning until a vaccine is found. Malls are open but the number of people entering them is controlled to a minimum. Restaurants are open to takeout services with 50% dine-in capacity only. Every establishment has a body temperature check and disinfectant sprays at its entrance with some having a disinfectant foot bath at the door. Cashless transactions are encouraged to limit handling of hard currency. For some provinces, the quarantine pass ID is a requirement to enter malls and other establishments. Public transport is allowed but at half its capacity. Plastic shields are set between seats to prevent any contact to the next passenger. The face mask, which was hardly used outside of a medical facility, is now required whenever you venture outdoors.
How are we doing?
As millions worldwide lost jobs or were displaced because of lockdowns, people everywhere got creative and started all sorts of fundraisers online. It is wonderful to see what we Filipinos call “bayanihan” (communal unity and cooperation) alive and thriving. There are also those who started to do other things recognizing that they may not be able to work at their old jobs like before. Some discovered their creative side while others learned new skills to pass the time or earn a living. Growing your own food has become a stark alternative to groceries and markets. In the midst of isolation, people now understand that it is vital to have physical, emotional, and mental wellness.
We realized that we only need the simplest and basic things to live. Much of our possessions are not really important. Many have turned to God as the situation has proven to be beyond human control. Despite what is happening in the world, people continue to hope and believe that things will get better.
Where do we go from here?
When we were forced to rest, we realized that we needed it. All of us were caught in the busyness of things that we’ve grown accustomed to it. Even our rest days were busy because we’d be traveling and doing other things to get away from it all. When we finally had no choice but to stay home, we welcomed the break thinking that it will be over soon. The first few days felt good but the days became weeks and the weeks became months. We got tired of the rest, while some started to have anxiety attacks because of the uncertainty of the future. It is obvious now that we cannot go back to how we lived before until a vaccine is developed. The reality is in the next two or three years we may continue to live in a physically-distanced, extra-hygienic, more and more IOT world.
Daunting, but we can face this major life transition with our never-changing God. A cliché perhaps, but it’s the truth. We’ve already seen that world systems fail, military strength is helpless in the face of the virus, and experts and leaders are limited in their wisdom and knowledge. Like children in a playground, they bicker and point fingers on who to blame for the outbreak. God is not only God but He is our Father and He cares for us His children. When we choose to put our trust in Him, we will have peace no matter what we face. We are still in this world so we are not immune to what’s happening in it, but we can be rest assured that we can shelter in Him.
I can go on talking about how great God is and how He has been there for me from the beginning, but wouldn’t it be great if you yourself experience that? If you haven’t yet, ask God to show you the plans He has for you in this new world we’re in. There is nothing to fear because He only gives the best. He’s been waiting to hear from you. Go for it.